As far as nicknames goes these days, they’re about as original as a Puffy sample. There are pretty much two categories of nicknames.
1) There is the lackluster use of initials such as AI or KG.
2) The ever popular yet lazy initials and jersey number mashup like CP3 or AK-47 (ok, Kirilenko’s unsanctioned handle is pretty sick).
Whatever happened to those great names like The Microwave, Magic or The Iceman? Guys glossed with catchy handles that also represented the nature of their game.
That’s why from this day out I’m referring to Andrew Bynum as Altered Beast. I’m still keeping with the times by using his initials, the difference here is that we’re not running with the formulaic AB or Drew or AB17.
First things first, you’ve got to be familiar with the Sega game from whence the name comes. Not unlike the arcade classic Bynum has the tendency to be either a mere man or an uncontrollable beast.
On Tuesday night in Sacramento, Bynum was the beast.
Early in the contest the Lakers pounded the rock inside forcing the Kings to contend with the Altered Beast in his natural habitat – 5 feet from the hoop.
On both ends of the court, Altered Beast Mode was in full effect.
Bynum controlled the boards, defended the hoop and abused any mere mortal in a Kings jersey.
It wasn’t until early in the third quarter that Bynum finally scored on something other than a dunk. His free throw line extended jumper was good for the Beast’s 19th point of the game. Soon after the beast reverted back to man as he stepped aside allowing Pau to put the finishing touches on a 28 and 12 night.
Minus a defenseless second quarter, this game was never really in doubt as the Lake Show completed the NorCal sweep with a 106-99 victory.
For whatever it’s worth this Queens team has the makings of a squad capable of resurrecting the once fierce rivalry between L.A. and Sactown. Omri Casspi and Spencer Hawes run their mouths enough to be the perfect villains. And don’t look now but Tyreke Evans is becoming the Penny Hardaway upgrade (25, 11 and 9 plus a McNasty hesitation dribble followed with a sick spin move that put Ron Ron in the popcorn machine).
But that is all future speculation.
In the here and now the Lakers just reached the 50-win plateau for the third year running and the 8th time in the last 11 seasons. Mix in four more banners and the word Dynasty begins to boil up from the lips of fans and haters alike.
With Altered Beast in form this team is nearly impossible to contend with. In a half an hour of playing time, the Lakers were +17 with Bynum on the floor.
If he can find a way to show up as a Beast more often than a mortal man, we could be talking about the rarest of all feats in the nickname game: gaining one name recognition.
Guys like Jordan, Bird, Kobe, Kareem and Wilt are on that level. The Altered Beast has a long way to go until he can even be an afterthought in that conversation. But if Bynum brings it like this every night we could be talking about something that makes any man immortal – rings.